Only an estimated 200-300 Henry rifles with iron frames were manufactured by New Haven Arms Co. before the company discontinued them in favor of the distinctive "brass" gunmetal frames, but only around 90 of the original New Haven Arms Co. iron frame Henry rifles are known to collectors today. They are one of the rarest and most desirable of all of the classic American lever action rifles variations and are highly sought after by collectors making getting your hands on one very difficult. This rifle is listed among the identified iron frame rifles in Sword's "The Historic Henry Rifle." While already extremely rare, this rifle is made even rarer by the fact that its consecutively serial numbered rifle is also extant and in this auction in LOT 3025. Its other consecutive number, 129, is also on the list of extant rifles, so a dedicated collector could potentially get their hands on three consecutively numbered iron framed Henry rifles. These iron framed rifles were manufactured at the beginning of production in April-June of 1862. The known serial numbers of the iron frame Henry rifles range from 1-393. Collectors have also identified seventy-seven brass frame Henry rifles in this same serial number range. Of these, sixteen have duplicate serial numbers with the iron frame rifles. Given that the Henry rifle was very popular with Union soldiers during the Civil War as well as with Native Americans and settlers in the West, many of these rifles would have seen serious use in the latter half of the 19th century. This Henry rifle has matching serial numbers on the barrel, lower tang, upper tang mortise of the stock, inside the buttplate, and on the buttplate and tang screws. It has the correct early production dual rear sight dovetails on the breech end of the barrel on the top of the frame and has a notch and folding ladder rear sight with 1,000 yard top notch on the latter installed in the frame dovetail. The rifle also has the distinctive early production features of no lever latch provisions, a smaller diameter brass cartridge follower head, a straight receiver follower slot, and rounded buttplate heel. A rounded, nickel-silver blade front sight is fitted at the muzzle. The top of the barrel is roll-stamped with the two-line legend: "HENRY'S PATENT. OCT. 16, 1860/MANUFACT'D BY THE NEWHAVEN ARMS.CO. NEWHAVEN.CT" ahead of the rear sight dovetail.
Fine with a mix of smooth blend of bright original blue finish and brown patina on the iron throughout, attractively aged patina on the brass follower and elevator, some faint oxidation, and mild scratches and dings. The stock is very fine and has most of the original varnished finish, thin crack visible ahead of the lower buttplate screw on the right, and general mild scratches and dings. Mechanically fine. Don't let the presence of two in one auction fool you, iron frame Henry rifles are very difficult to acquire! A consecutive pair of any Henry rifles, let alone iron frames, would be an extraordinarily rare centerpiece for an advanced lever action collection, and alone this rifle will be a fine addition to any antique arms collection. The choice is yours!
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